South Africa’s White Farmers: A Covenantal Lesson
“God doesn’t tolerate the injustice of closed borders for too long.”
Assigned reading: Mark Mathabane, Kaffir Boy
Welcome to Episode 68 of Axe to the Root Podcast, part of the War Room Productions, I am Bo Marinov, and for the next 30 minutes we will look at a crystal clear example of covenantal approach to history. You know, that approach that looks at history not as a motley collection of purposeless, haphazard events of no origin nor direction, but as a string of God’s actions according to His plan for history, which is the progressive revelation of His Kingdom in history and on earth, manifested in the victory of the Gospel of His Son, again, in history and on earth. Is the difference important for a Christian? You bet. Our Christian faith hinges on whether we believe that history, in its every single event, is controlled by God for the purposes of His Gospel. The so often quoted verse of Gen. 15:6: ‘Abraham believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness,’ repeated several times in the New Testament, was not speaking about Abraham’s faith for things present. Read the context of Gen. 15: it was faith in the future, faith about God controlling history so that Abraham’s seed eventually became the dominant factor on the planet: ‘So shall your descendants be.’ To have such faith towards the future that only can be credited for righteousness (for no other kind of faith would suffice), Abraham ad to believe that there would be no gray area in history free of God’s control. Everything, to the minutest detail, would be directly and intimately governed by God. That’s what’s called a covenantal approach to history. Such approach, then, would logically include covenantal sanctions: because of God’s Kingdom is to be manifested in history and on earth, then, at least partially and progressively, the war against the enemies of God, against covenant-breakers, will be waged in history and on earth, and there will be victories against them, which means that they will be gradually and progressively defeated in history. Until all of Christ’s enemies are made his footstool, which is the ultimate objective of the Gospel in history (1 Cor. 15:25). God will bring about Christ’s victory by defeating His enemies in history.
The historical example we will use to show this covenantal lesson is of an utmost significance for us. Why? Because, unlike other historical events of which we have spoken before, this one is unfolding right in front of our eyes today. And not only that, it is also of enormous relevance to us as American Christians; for the sins involved in this example of historical sanctions are also sins that we as American Christians commit today, en masse, as a church, following wicked leaders and politicians. And we have not repented of them, and in fact, we are still involved in those sins. So we better pay attention.
This last week, the parliament of South Africa passed, with overwhelming majority, a motion put forward by the radical leftist party Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and accepted by the ruling African National Congress. The motion provides for legal action by the South African government to start confiscating agricultural land from white farmers and give it over to the black population. The decision is of very high historical significance, because it is the only such legislative act in this century so far which prescribes punitive executive action along racial lines. Even Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, while driving the white farmers out of their farms, didn’t declare it officially to be motivated by racial differences. (The racial prejudice in Zimbabwe was in the selectivity of the executive action, not in the official legislative language.) Racial segregation and oppression, of course, was common for many countries during the 20th century, always in favor of white populations, but after the civil rights movements in the US, the decolonization of Africa and South-East Asia, and the fall of the Apartheid in South Africa, such racially motivated action and speech have been to great extent barred from official pronouncements of the world’s governments. The Parliament of South Africa brought back to life the Frankenstein of racism by government action.
As of now, there seems to be little hope of repealing the motion. The ruling African National Congress seems to understand the dangers of the motion to the country’s economic situation and international reputation; the new ANC president, Cyril Ramaphosa, delivered a rather moderate speech giving vague promises that the government will proceed ‘carefully’ and that there will be no land-grabbing. And yet, his own party needs the support of their allies, the EFF. The Democratic Alliance, a party with a long history of anti-racism and anti-Apartheid activism, is too weak politically to make any difference. The international political establishment doesn’t seem too interested in confronting South Africa about its new form of Apartheid and government racism. Even if it did confront it, little would come out of it; the white Apartheid survived for several decades in the midst of constant international condemnations and embargo. It looks like the white farmers of South Africa have little hope to keep their land. And without compensation, the prospect before their families is certainly not bright.
There could have been an easy solution to their plight. Coming not from their own government and their own society, but from other nations. Such solution has been known to Christian Europe for centuries, and it has been used extensively, especially by Protestant nations. It is called ‘open borders.’ Starting from the 8th and the 9th century, especially after the rise of the most massive and the longest-lasting grass roots movement, The Peace and Truce of God movement (we will cover it in a future episode of Axe to the Root), Christendom understood it as an imperative for both nations and for their rulers that whenever a minority came under persecution by their own rulers, it had the God-given right to cross the border into territory where its rulers had no power to persecute. The already Christianized Roman Empire allowed Goths and Franks to flee from the attacks of Attila’s Huns into its own territory. (Later these same Goths and Franks helped it defeat the Huns and protect its borders; in fact, it was the Franks who preserved the Roman civilization long after the Empire was gone.) During the middle ages, tribal groups would cross borders to flee attacks and persecution, and it was expected that local rulers would not interfere with the movements of such groups. The crusades against heretical groups like the Cathari and the Albigenses produced a mass exodus from South France, and rulers in places as far as the Balkans accepted the refugees. If Spain persecuted its Jews, France and the Netherlands would accept them. If some German princes would persecute certain groups, other German principalities would be safe for the same groups. Etc., etc., etc. Open borders have always been the hope and support for those persecuted. And they could have been the hope and support for the white farmers of South Africa . . . provided, of course, America had stood faithful to her Christian legacy and had open borders. As it is today, even Christians and conservatives in America refuse to be faithful to that legacy, and root for the utterly pagan policy, passed in the US by socialists, occultists, and other enemies of God, namely, immigration restrictions.
That’s why we, the nation who declared to the world, ‘give me you tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,’ today say no such thing. And those farmers have no place to go.
Well, of course, in the last week or so, there have been voices among conservatives and Christians in the US for Trump to allow white farmers from South Africa to immigrate. In fact, there is even a petition to that effect. I have mixed feelings about it, however. On one hand, obviously, I am absolutely for opening the borders for persecuted people from around the world to find a safe haven in America. On the other hand, however, the very concept of ‘Trump allowing people to come over’ is a deeply socialist and statist concept, and it has nothing to do with Biblical ethics, nor, for that matter, with the US Constitution. ‘Allowing’ people to come over presupposes that the civil government has the right to control the movement of non-criminal individuals. While South African farmers should be able to freely come over, this should not be a matter of government permission anymore than homeschooling or changing your job or renovating your house. All those are economic decisions, and no economic decision of a family or an individual should be the business of any government to permit or prohibit.
There is also deep hypocrisy in that conservative petition. Under the current immigration law ‘ designed and lobbied for by Ted Kennedy and other socialists, and supported by modern conservatives (who are the same socialists as Ted Kennedy, their claims to the contrary notwithstanding) ‘ South African farmers are generally not eligible for immigration. The current Immigration and Nationality Act is basically a prohibition: it prohibits anyone from immigrating, and then only extends grace to four limited groups of people. South African farmers, as a group, are not among them. The law, however, allows significant latitude to the executive to decide on specific cases; in fact, the Immigration and Nationality Act was entirely designed to place all the privilege of controlling the movements of people in the hands of the executive. (In fact, unknown to the vast majority of Americans, this executive control over the movement of people extends even over US citizens. That’s why, when you travel abroad and return back home, the border control person at the airport has the power to ask you where you have been and for what reason. As I said in my lectures on immigration several years ago, whatever you want the government to do to the stranger, it eventually ends up doing it to you.) This executive power allows the executive to decide about specific cases or specific groups. Thus, under the Immigration and Nationality Act, Trump has the power to decide in favor of a specific group abroad, or even grant amnesty to other groups already here. So he can easily remove the restrictions for South African farmers and let them immigrate to the US.
But that’s what Obama also wanted to do with another group: the refugees from the Middle East, from the countries that the US military has bombed or continued bombing, or has destabilized through its foreign policy. He also wanted to do it with the abandoned children from Honduras and El Salvador. In fact, Obama was much more careful: while the Act gave him the executive power to just make the decision, he preferred to defer it to Congress and have a legislative approval. But when he did that, oh what self-righteous indignation all conservatives and the majority of church-goers all fell in, and oh how many sanctimonious moralizing sermons we heard about Obama ‘breaking the law’ and ‘acting criminally.’ And the same conservatives and church-goers now insist that Trump does exactly the same with their own preferred group. Apparently, when Obama does it (in fact, he didn’t even attempt to use his executive power), it is ‘breaking the law,’ but now that Trump is in power, it’s not breaking of the law anymore. Is it surprising, then, that with this and many similar disgusting displays of hypocrisy, conservatism and Christianity are losing support among the young people? And then, of course, we blame the millennials, but the reality is, it is conservatives and Christians who are the reason for their own demise.
The only consistent solution is the Biblical and constitutional solution: open borders. Get the government out of the business of controlling immigration. Let non-criminal people travel and settle freely. Only control citizenship; may be even deny them citizenship forever, who cares. Citizenship is only a privilege, not a right; the freedom to move and settle and find a better life for one’s family is a God-given right. In order to help those in need, and not be hypocritical about it, open the borders.
Conservatives’s and church-goers’ hypocrisy notwithstanding, it is still true that the only righteous response to the plight of those South African farmers is opening our borders. Whether our economy needs more farmers or not is of no consequence. (Pure pragmatically, it doesn’t. Our nation produces more food than it needs, and more than we can even consume.) Whether they are culturally integrated or not is of no consequence. (In fact, they are not. Mexico is much closer culturally to the US than is South Africa, let alone rural South Africa.) Whether they are white or not is of no consequence. People should be free to seek and find and settle in the best place for their safety and productivity.
Having established the solution for the problem, however, we as Christians should resist the temptation to instinctively side with the white farmers of South Africa, and identify with their plight. Because, while the decision of the South African parliament is obviously wrong, and it will bring more suffering to South Africa. But such decision was not made in a historical vacuum; and it certainly wasn’t made in a covenantal vacuum. Yeah, we can say that the decisions was motivated by racism, but we shouldn’t stop to assuming racism was only the immediate cause for it. Because racism was present much earlier, one or two generations ago, and that racism was deeply embedded in the way white farmers were able to acquire that land in the first place. And less we forget, for two generations during the previous century, South Africa was governed by the most repulsive system of overt institutional racism, unique in the whole world in its government oppression of whole populations of people entirely on the basis of their skin color.
One of the most amazing achievements of the South African system of apartheid between 1948 and 1990 is the fact that it was capable of convincing millions of Western Christians and conservatives in general that it was a ‘capitalist’ system which fought for freedom and against socialism. Nothing could be further from the truth. The apartheid was a socialist system all the way through. It was a system of oppression of one group of people in favor of another group of people. And for most, if not all, of the history of the apartheid, it was the white farmers who profited the most from this oppression.
Of course, South Africa didn’t invent racism, nor did it invent racial segregation by legislation. The earliest racist theories in the West sprang out of the Enlightenment and its environmentalist theory of culture in the second half of the 18th century. Before that, the only consistent racist theory about the moral or biological inferiority or superiority of certain races based on skin color could be found only in the Talmud ‘ the so called ‘Curse of Ham’ myth, which was designed to justify the North African slave trade in the Caliphate, controlled at the time by Jewish merchants. European Christendom had no racial theories nor racial consciousness; the identity of Europeans was religious, as Christians vs. non-Christians, not as a genetic pool defined by skin color. The first attempts at African slave trade by the Portuguese were justified by the fact that the blacks were pagans, not by their skin color. Ethiopia, on the other hand, as a Christian country, was considered part of Christendom, and Portuguese soldiers and mercenaries fought in service of the kings of Ethiopia. Vasco da Gama’s own son, Cristóvão da Gama, died a heroic death defending the Queen Mother of Ethiopia against Muslim invaders in 1542. Black slaves brought to Portugal or Spain in the 16th and the 17th centuries were converted and freed, and became part of the society; some rose through the ranks to become prominent figures in the society. (Visit the San Marcos fortress in St. Augustine in Florida, to see evidence of black military commanders in the Spanish army.)
Racism as a theory was introduced in Europe through the Enlightenment. The French and Scottish Enlightenment philosophers rejected the concept that culture is religious and creedal in nature and started playing with ideas that culture is the product of material forces: climate, soil, physiognomy, genetics, etc. This led to the theory that certain physical features, being the product of physical factors and also physical factors in their own turn, were culturally and morally superior to other physical features. Thus, Europeans had a superior culture with superior technology and superior justice not because of the prevailing Christian faith and Biblical worldview but because somehow the physical make up of Europeans make them superior and therefore capable of creating a superior culture. Christian thinkers were quick to fall in line and adopted that same Enlightenment ideology; and the Rabbinic myth of ‘the Curse of Ham’ was put into use in the Christian churches. By the end of the 18th century, a number of racist policies were adopted by Western powers, and slavery, while originally not motivated by racism, was gradually made justified by the supposed racial inferiority of the blacks. It helps, however, to keep in mind, that that early racism was not limited to racism against blacks. Europeans also saw themselves divided by races. The English considered the Irish a ‘foreign race’; in fact, even as late as 1915, English ‘scientists’ described the Irish as an ‘African race.’ Benjamin Franklin, complained about the ‘swarthy Germans’ who had immigrated in America and declared them to be foreign to the white Anglo-Saxon race. Etc., etc.
But the real boost to racism in all its forms came from Darwin’s Origin of Species. It introduced a new element in the interpretation of cultural exchange and action: the struggle for survival. While racism came from the Enlightenment and was prevalent in the Western world by the 1850s, it still carried the older Christian missionary impetus. Cultures and civilizations were still considered mutually beneficial, even if conditioned by material factors. Both French and Scottish philosophers (the left and the right wing of the Enlightenment) looked at non-European cultures as ‘backward’ but still containing some good elements worthy of borrowing; also, they believed that, eventually, all non-European cultures will adopt the European culture. Voltaire and Rousseau could talk about the ‘noble savage’ who could teach Europeans about simple and honest life, uncorrupted by the influence of the civilization. British governors of India could envision a day when India would shake off her paganism and adopt Christianity, and join her sister Britain in being the two most exemplary Christian peoples on the earth. Western racism of before 1859 was pagan and immoral, but it was mitigated by the remnants of Christian thought in the culture.
Darwin’s book destroyed its outlook. It was racism taken to its logical conclusion. Its subtitle read, Or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. Darwin could have chosen another word instead of ‘races.’ He could have used ‘species’ or ‘genus’ or ‘kinds.’ He chose to use ‘races,’ a word that could easily be understood by his contemporaries ‘ and by us today ‘ to denote not just animal and plant species, but also human races, as white, black, yellow, etc. The hint was taken, and quite soon Darwinism became the leading paradigm in sociology and history before it did in biology and the other natural sciences. Cultures and races and civilizations were now understood to be in a deadly conflict with each other, and survival would be the prize for those who win. Before 1870, European colonialism was exploitative and at times cruel, but it was still relatively benign and missionary. After 1870, in most colonies, it turned into a full-scale war against the local populations. The genocide against the population of the Congo by agents of the Belgian king Leopold between 1885 and 1908; the murders of whole tribes in the American West by the US Army soldiers after 1865, the forced slavery or removal from the land of South American natives by the local governments are only the tip of the iceberg of thousands of other less known cases. In some cases, even European colonist populations were not spared; in the Boer Wars between the Dutch population of South Africa and the British Empire, the British army created the first concentration camps in history to incarcerate civilian population (women, children, and elderly); tens thousands of Boer women and children died in those camps by deliberate starvation and refusal of medical help.
It was in the context of this belief in the ‘struggle for survival of the races’ that the first apartheid legislation was created in South Africa. And the black vs. white history in South Africa is much worse than anything you could have imagined. If you thought that whites were the civilized side, and the blacks were the savages, you are severely mistaken.
During the Second Boer War (1899-1902) in South Africa, the native tribes didn’t take anyone’s side. Blacks were employed in mainly non-combatant roles by both sides, and very few blacks were assigned roles as scouts, again, by both sides. (It was admitted that black stretcher workers on the battlefield, working at times under heavy fire, saved the lives of thousands of British soldiers.) Despite that neutrality, both sides in the war, following a ‘scorched earth policy,’ destroyed black farms and villages and drove peaceful black population out of its land. The British Army, having already created concentration camps for the Boer population, created camps for the neutral black population also. As many black Africans were interned as Boers, for the only reason that their native land was in the way of the British armies. But things would soon get worse . . . for those same blacks who stayed neutral.
The surrender of the Boers and the end of the war resulted in the integration of the two Boer republics into the British Empire. The Boers were not happy about it, and a few Boer rebellions followed in the next several years, but the British government was determined to win the Boers on its side. A British imperial administration was appointed to lead and oversee the restoration of South Africa, and the integration of the Boer population into the British Empire. Much of the work of that administration was focused on the economic restoration of South Africa, built on developing industry and mining. But in order to placate the defeated Boers, it also gave the start to the first institutions of what later will become the apartheid ‘ a legislation of forceful segregation of the population of South Africa based entirely on skin color. At the time, it was known as the Colour Bar Act of 1911. It established segregation in respect to work in industrial factories and the gold and diamond mines in South Africa, clearly in favor of the white population. During the same period, a new policy of land re-distribution was introduced which designated whole regions of agricultural land to be available for purchase and ownership to whites only; only 8% of the agricultural land was set apart for the black population. While the movement of blacks was not limited at the time, all blacks residing or working in cities of predominantly Afrikaner population were required to have passports and work permits. Yes, the same blacks who not only remained neutral during the ‘white man’s war,’ and even helped equally both sides
The Colour Bar Act was challenged in 1919 by the mining companies in South Africa. The world price of gold had collapsed by about 30% during WWI (gold always gets cheaper in war time), and the mining companies were trying to compensate for the lower price by opening the job market to cheaper black workforce. The government of the Union of South Africa moved to weaken ‘ just weaken ‘ the colour bar to allow it. This lead to a wide-scale revolt known today as the Rand Rebellion of 1921. A coalition of the white labor unions, the Labor Party, the Communist Party of South Africa, and the then very young National Party organized close to 100,000 miners and industrial workers under the slogan, ‘Workers, Unite, Keep South Africa White.’ The armed rebellion that followed was so extensive and so destructive, that the government of the Union of South Africa had to bring in a regular army with field artillery, tanks, and bomber aircraft, to crush the rebellion. This reflected poorly on the political position of the government of the Union, and the next year Jan Smuts, the Prime Minister who crushed the Rand Rebellion, was voted out of office. The National Party won the elections. The Colour Bar was preserved, and was even re-inforced and expanded.
The National Party grew in influence in the next couple of decades, especially among the white farmers. When South Africa moved to independence in 1948, in the first general elections, led by the Dutch Reformed minister Daniel Francois Malan (notice, a church minister!), the National Party won the elections, mainly with the votes of the white farmers. (The election system was heavily rigged in favor of the rural Afrikaner regions.) Malan immediately moved to introduce one of the most egregious racial segregation systems the world has ever seen. Over the next 10 years, a series of laws were passed that basically established a system of internal closed borders throughout the country. A new re-distribution of land was decreed, one that still left only 8% of the land available to the black population, but even that 8% was mostly infertile, in areas with no infrastructure at all. The colour bar was not only retained, it was made even worse. Under the apartheid, the black population was now declared citizens of the ‘native lands,’ and stripped of their South African citizenship. This made it virtually impossible for a black person to get a job in the mines or in the industrial sector, unless they went through a long process of getting a work visa or permit. Even when a black person got that work visa or permit, they were specifically barred from bringing their families with them. And since the work permit was re-entry limited, that forced many blacks fathers to live away from their families for long periods of time. The minimum taxable income for a black worker was 350 rand a year, half that of a white worker. As if this was not enough, South African blacks couldn’t even emigrate; South Africa denied them passports (they were not citizens), and the rest of the world didn’t recognize their ‘native lands’ as sovereign countries. And neither did the South African government, fearing that this would legalize imports and exports, including of strategic materials and weapons. The situation of the South African blacks was hopeless: they couldn’t develop their own ‘native areas,’ they couldn’t find work, and they couldn’t emigrate. And the legislation was so evil, that even foreign nationals were denied basic rights, if they were black. Wealthy black families from South Rhodesia, which never had segregation, when traveling to South Africa by train, were forced at the border to vacate first-class cars and move to the ‘Blacks Only’ cars; or were barred from staying at hotels.
In the cities, whole populations were removed from their houses to designated areas, without compensation. Sophiatown, an affluent historic black neighborhood in Johannesburg, a cultural and economic hub for the urban black population, conveniently close to the city’s industrial areas, was forcibly vacated by the government (police with rifles and special maces known as knobkerries against unarmed population, including women and children) and residents and homeowners were moved 15 miles away from the city. The area was bulldozed, then rebuilt under a government plan, and renamed to ‘Triumph.’ In the final account, however, it was settled with mainly poor and low class Afrikaners, and soon turned into a slum ridden with crime, prostitution, and drug abuse. Ironically, the ‘white culture’ that the government planned to exhibit higher standards than the ‘coloured culture’ turned out to be much worse than it. Similar was the fate of the well known District Six in Cape Town: again, a whole area of town was confiscated by the government, forcibly vacated, bulldozed, and rebuilt under a government plan. Two thousand homeowners lost their properties and only a few of them were given any restitution, and it was much lower than the market value of their properties. District Six, however, was never rebuilt completely. Today, only 20% of it is rebuilt, with most of the land being simply fallow land or dumping ground.
And guess how the ruling National Party excused all these actions of government control, confiscation, and oppression? That the apartheid was no different than the immigration restriction laws in Western Europe and the United States! In fact, on many occasions between 1952 and 1990, South African politicians and officials were openly referring to the ‘illegal immigration problem’ in the US as the same ‘problem’ they had in South Africa. The apartheid was very deliberately and overtly a policy of closed borders. It was based ‘ just like the US immigration policy and the anti-immigration rhetoric after 1920 ‘ on evolutionary presuppositions: that immigration restrictions were needed to assure the survival of the European culture. Behind all that was the Darwinian belief that the cultures ‘ racially defined ‘ were in a global clash for scarce resources, just like the animal species in The Origin of Species. And therefore, the survival of the civilization had to be assured by government control over the movement of individuals.
Where were the white farmers during these decades of violent socialist policies of government confiscation of property, re-distribution of wealth, closed borders, and government control over the movement and actions of individuals? They were the most fervent supporters of the National Party. All these years, the voting system of South Africa was heavily rigged in favor of white rural areas; and these white rural areas voted for the National Party and its socialist policies. There was a good reason for that. By limiting the access to the land market, the government made agricultural land exquisitely cheap. About 90% of the land was open for use to 17% of the population, of which 17%, only a small portion took to farming. On the other hand, since the native population was given mostly infertile land, the ‘native areas’ depended heavily on food produced by white farmers for their survival. Given that the ‘native areas’ had no infrastructure and therefore not many job opportunities, the farmers could always draw on cheap black labor. The bureaucratic requirements for ‘work permits’ were quite heavy, and sometimes blacks had to work ‘illegally,’ which drove down the wages. For all these years, the market was always in favor of the farmers: abundant cheap resources, abundant cheap labor, and abundant dependent markets without competition. No wonder the farmers continued keeping the National Party in power.
In itself, this was bad but no worse than the practice of many socialist governments and their constituencies in other places. What made it worse, however, is that all these abominations were committed in the name of Christ. Remember, the apartheid was designed and started by a Dutch Reformed churchman as a Prime Minster. Until the very end of the apartheid, the rural white population was the most churched white population in the world; they continued attending their church services, and continued pretending that they were building a Christian culture. Just like the German Christians did their services and sang their hymns, South African Reformed Christians ‘ especially in the rural areas ‘ did their services and sang their hymns, while voting for mass government incarceration of whole populations, government robbery, redistribution of wealth, control of individuals, separation of families or banning marriages not on the basis of religion but race, etc., etc. While any sin is an abomination before God, there is a special commandment, part of the Ten Commandments, against using the name of God in vain. South Africa has been violating that commandment for decades. And among the worst culprits in this massive violation were the white farmers. For all our sympathies for them, we as Christians can’t lawfully overlook that grievous cultural and individual sin committed in the name of Christ.
Bill Evans, a wonderful friend and, as you might remember from our introductory episode to Axe to the Root, the inspiration for me to start this podcast, asked me a few days ago in relation to an article I had written many years ago: How does God’s judgment works in the modern world for the sins of a nation, or at least, of a generation of people?
The way God deals with the white farmers of South Africa gives us a good illustration of God’s covenant judgments in history. For a generation after the end of the apartheid in South Africa, there was no word of remorse or repentance from those who carried the name of Christ and pretended to worship Him in their churches Sunday morning. The opportunity was there. There was also the opportunity for the farmers’ community in South Africa to try to rectify at least some of the damage by starting some sort of programs of training the young generation of blacks to become master farmers and eventually, independent entrepreneurs. For 90 years blacks were unlawfully barred from access to fertile land, and to produce markets as producers. They had no opportunity to develop the skills needed for independent entrepreneurship in agriculture ‘ and much of that lack of opportunity was due to wicked legislation. Since white farmers were the main beneficiaries of the system of apartheid, one sign of their repentance would have been a coordinated attempt to make up for all these years and offer training and assistance and reconciliation. Nothing like this happened. Much like the Canaanites in the time of the Exodus were given one extra generation to repent or to fill the cup of their iniquity, the white farmers of South Africa were given the time to use their ‘wealth of unrighteousness’ to make friends (Luke 16:9). They didn’t make a good use of that time. God is now visiting the sins of the fathers on the children (Ex. 20:5). And He uses the Assyrians of our day ‘ the Communists ‘ to carry His judgment.
As I said in the beginning, that is not an excuse for us to not open our borders to them. Whether they are victims of human injustice or a rightful target of God’s justice, or both, should not be a factor in our own decision-making. A people in distress may or may not deserve mercy, but a people in affluence is under obligation to use its wealth according to God’s mercy; and God’s mercy requires that we spend our own money to nurse back to health even our enemies, as the parable of the Good Samaritan says.
But there is a covenantal lesson for us in all this: God doesn’t tolerate the injustice of closed borders for too long. Eventually, the people who have relied on the power of the state to protect their privileges, lose that power. And then eventually God turns their own oppression against them, and makes them feel the sting of it. A lesson Christians in America better learn, less we find ourselves in the same situation. Or, if you want some taste of reality, the rise of socialism in America in the last 20 years is only foretaste of what is coming; and it is not the fault of the left. It is our own fault, for supporting anti-Christian, socialist policies. And one of them is closed borders.
The book I will assign this week is Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane. The book is an autobiography, not a historical study. I read it many years ago, and I have only general memories of it. One thing I remember clearly: The hopelessness created among the black youth by the apartheid government by the policies of segregation is comparable to the sin of those who make those little ones stumble. The fact that God had so much patience with the injustice of the apartheid only shows His enormous long-suffering and goodness. Those who benefited from the apartheid and didn’t stand against it are without excuse.
And finally, in your prayers and giving, remember Bulgarian Reformation Ministries, a mission organization devoted to building the intellectual foundation of the future Christian civilization in Eastern Europe by translating and publishing Christian books dealing with the application of the Gospel to every area of life. Visit Bulgarian Reformation.com, subscribe to our newsletter, and donate.